Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"We have often admonished people who frequent the unbroken forests, especially those unaccustomed to hunting and camping, of the safety in having a pocket compass, which can be obtained at the cost of a few cents, and may ofttimes save the possessor much trouble and even save a life."

So begins an article in the Oxford County(Maine) Advertiser of Friday,
February 3,1905. Entitled "The Value of A Compass," the article was
written by a Mark Tapley, who then goes on to illustrate his point with a
story of an event "some sixty years before" which would have been in 1845.
Three men from Letter B Plantation (now Upton) Maine set out with a wagonload
of hay by for the logging camp at Swift Diamond River: Enoch Abbott,
Joseph Chase, and John West. The latter was my 4x great-grandfather,
John Cutter West.

Of course, this was meant as a cautionary tale and Mr. Tapley tells
of how after traveling across a frozen lake and delivering their load the
party started back for home at 1 in the afternoon. But as snow began to fall
the trail across the lake was obscured and the three men became lost in the dark.
Joseph Chase decided he was going to lie down and take a nap, a fatal error
in the middle of a snowstorm. John West took a rather unique approach to the
situation by beating Chase with the ox prod until the other man was so angry he
jumped up to defend himself and the two men got into a fistfight.

Eventually they stopped fighting and John came up with a plan to get them all
out of their predicament. The wagon had been drawn by two pairs of oxen and
the lead ox belonged to John. He proposed they set the oxen loose and follow
their lead since "they are tired and hungry and will make for the nearest
habitation." And that's exactly what they did! The three men followed the
oxen to the home of a man named Joe Stone and so were saved.

You can read the full story in the clipping at the top of this post. It
was given to me by my Aunt Dorothy.

I learned a few things I didn't know from this newspaper story. One was that
John C. West owned one or more oxen and used them to deliver supplies to
logging camps. He did this by traveling across a frozen lake. (Think "Ice
Truckers" but with oxen.) Oxen would make more sense for this sort of
venture; they are slow but surefooted and even tempered, so easier to handle
while crossing a slippery surface. They also could handle the weather
better than horses, as you can see by reading the concluding paragraphs of
the article.

I wondered about the two other men, Enoch Abbott and Joseph Chase, especially
the first. I have Abbott ancestors but through the marriage of Clara Ellingwood
to my great grandfather Philip John West some fifty years after the events in the
story. Could Enoch be related through that line somehow? A quick check of
the 1850 census for Letter B shows Enoch and his family entered on the same
page as the West family. I checked for family trees and found one for his
family, and upon further investigation I discovered that Enoch had a son named
Otis. That rang a bell, and upon further investigation I found Otis was the father
of Valora Agnes Abbott, who married Leonidas West, one of the sons of John
Cutter West.

One of John's grandsons, Hiram, married an Eva Chase but I haven't found any
link to Joseph Chase.

Lastly, the most important thing I learned from this article is this:
when taking a hike in the woods, make sure you bring a team of

Monday, September 29, 2008


Last year around this time I ran a series of posts about books dealing
with the ghostly and supernatural events of New England. As the
person in charge of the Local Interest section of the bookstore I'm
always looking for those books and the closer to this area of
Massachusetts the better. Recently we received a new book ,
Ghosts of the Bridgewater Triangle, written by Christopher Balzano
and it's been one of the best sellers from my display table.

The Bridgewater Triangle is an area in southeastern Massachusetts
within which some very strange things have been seen over the
years going as far back to before the colonists arrived. Mr. Balzano
has gathered many of them together in his book, stories apparitions
and occurrences in such diverse places as graveyards, colleges,
asylums, homes and factories. There's a lot of things here that I hadn't
read or heard about before, and if you are a resident of the area, you
might enjoy visiting some of the locations. Who knows? You might
see one of the ghosts yourself.

The Bridgewater Triangle covers two hundred square miles with
Freetown and Rehoboth at the bottom corners and my own town
of Abington at the tip of the Triangle. Besides myself, two other of
my coworkers come from Abington and our manager comes from
Dighton, at the bottom point near Rehoboth. So we were all of
course fascinated by the book and my manager even visited
one of the places Mr. Balzano writes about the Old Village Cemetery
in Rehoboth and had a brush with the supernatural. We're hoping
we can have Mr. Balzano in for the store for a signing soon for the
Halloween season so we talk about the Triangle with him.

Even if you aren't from this area of Massachusetts, if you have an
interest in unusual and unexplained phenomena, you'll enjoy Christopher
Balzano's Ghosts of the Bridgewater Triangle. It's published by
Schiffer Publications as a $14.99 paperback book.


Boy, did I goof on this one. Have you ever thought you'd already done
something and then realized you hadn't? Well, I thought I'd written a
blog post about the 8th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and
Culture being up Thursday over at Lisa's Small-leaved Shamrock.
This edition was called "Back To School" and the entries concerned
what steps or methods those of us with Irish roots would take to gain
a greater knowledge of our genealogy or of Irish culture. There were
twelve contributors and some interesting reading and if you haven't
read the CIHC before, this would be a great place to start.

What's particularly embarrassing about my failure to post about
the CIHC this time is the fact that I am hosting the next edition right
here on West In New England, a "Luck of the Irish" edition:

Halloween (or Samhain as it was known among the ancient Celts)
is approaching and what better time to tell us about your family’s
Irish superstitions? Perhaps you have stories about strange coincidences
and events that might have been passed down by your Irish relatives,
or even know of some favorite legend or haunted place in Ireland.
Share them with us in the next edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage
& Culture.

Deadline for submissions for the Irish Superstitions edition of the
Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is October 25th.

I'll publish the Carnival here on, (when else?) Halloween. I hope
I can do half as good a job of hosting it as Lisa has done so far!

And I promise I'll remember to post it!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


In March 1765 the British Parliament passed the Stamp act, a piece
of legislation that said that an official government stamp or seal must
be attached to most printed items ranging from newspapers and
pamphlets to posters and playing cards. The recent French and
Indian Wars had been costly for Britain and there was also the need
to pay and supply the British troops still in North America.

For their part, many colonists reacted angrily to this first tax placed
them and were galvanized to take the steps that would lead to the
birth of an independent American nation. One of the earliest actions was
the Braintree Instructions, an official protest to the Stamp Act that was
to be delivered to Braintree's Representative to the General Court,
Ebenezer Thayer, Jr. The Braintree Town Meeting appointed five
men to draft the document: Samuel Niles, Norton Quincy, James Penniman,
John Hayward and a young lawyer named John Adams. The finished
document was presented to the Town Meeting on Sept 24th, 1765

Like most Americans I was completely ignorant of the Braintree Instructions.
I first heard about them from my friend and co-worker Rick Durham, a
member of the Braintree Historical Society, and he's printed a pamphlet entitled
John Adams' The Braintree Instructions: The First United Voice of Freedom in
Massachusetts. It's an excellent examination of the importance of the Instructions
in the events leading up to the Revolution. I won't go any further into the material
Rick covers, but I will highly recommend to my readers that they read his pamphlet
for themselves and gain an appreciation of the significance of the Instructions in
our country's history.

You can purchase the pamphlet at or from Rick himself
at for $5.00USA.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


And now for a commercial message

I've mentioned Peter F. Steven's book "The Hidden History of
the Boston Irish" in a previous post, and thought I'd mention that
Mr. Stevens would be appearing at the Borders Books store where
I work in Braintree, Ma. next Saturday, October 4th at 2pm.

It's a great book with lots of information about our Boston Irish
heritage. So drop on by and get a copy and meet Peter Stevens!

Monday, September 22, 2008


We left Ohio Wednesday morning and headed down for Washington D.C.
The weather held and so we got some great views of the countryside as
we traveled down through the state, the across part of Pennsylvania and
into West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. I believe we went through
Cumberland along the way so we were reversing the route taken by
many of the settlers that headed west 200 years ago. We saw some more
live deer along the way (including a very young one very close to the

I have to confess to being pretty vague about the routes we took on the
entire trip. In the old days I'd might have been looking at a map, but
while we had maps with us, the GPS device did all the navigating. My
main duty as navigator was to point out the upcoming exit to Cheryl.
And the GPS sure came in handy several times, such as when we
reached the D.C. Beltway and the daily rush hour traffic jam later
Wednesday afternoon.(although the female British voice sounded
very peevish with us when we ignored some direction. She sounded
as if she was flicking a whip or tapping a riding crop as she snapped

We reached our hotel around 7pm and perhaps the less said about it, the
better. Although it wasn't a horrible place, it was not close to a restaurant
and the commuter train rain right behind the building. I was a bit worried
about leaving anything in the car so I transferred my birthday gifts into
my backpack, using my genealogy binder and Pop's old license plate to
protect the family bible. We ordered out for pizza instead of trying to find
a restaurant.

Our plan the next morning was to visit the World War 2 and Vietnam War
memorials but we couldn't find a place to park, so we decided to visit
Arlington National Cemetery instead, taking one of the guided tours that
leave from the visitor's center. We chose the one that included President
Kennedy's grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and Arlington House
which was Robert E. Lee's home. It's a sobering and moving experience
to see the graves of so many Americans who have died in service to our
country. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers
was especially impressive.(even though one person forgot to shut off their
cellphone and chose to answer it rather than hit "mute". Luckily the
ceremony was already drawing to a close when the phone rang.)

(these two photos were taken by Cheryl)

Cheryl had told me she'd made reservations for lunch at some spot in D.C.
for one o'clock so we drove back downtown. We found a parking garage
and I took my backpack along because I wasn't about to leave the West
family bible in the car. Then we walked a few blocks to the Old Post
Office building, where we had to go through a metal detector and I told the
guards there was an old license plate in the bag that might set off the
alarm. (We'll get back to that backpack later). As we went further into the
building I could see there was a food court two flights of stairs down from
street level, which didn't thrill me because of a) my sore knee and b) as I've
said before, I hate stairs.

When I finally made it to the bottom, I started getting suspicious. My sister
was looking around, she said, for the restaurant and then she tried to call
somebody. Finally Cheryl suggested we just get some food and we picked
out a table at the back of the food court. And while I was in line getting a
sandwich, the second birthday surprise of the trip arrived. Stacy is a good
friend of 11 years of roleplay and she and Cheryl had been planning this
for a bit. It was nice to finally meet her in person (although I wish I'd
known so I could have dressed better!) and we had a good conversation
about our online friends and our real life families for a few hours as we
ate lunch. Stacy's just as classy face to face as she is online and the visit
went by too fast.

After we said our goodbyes, Cheryl and I made our way back to the car
and started the trip home. We thought we'd make it back to Massachusetts
by late that night or early Friday morning, but we didn't count on the
rear end fender-bender in Baltimore or the heavy rainstorms that finally
forced us to spend one more night in a motel in New Jersey, where I
realized that besides the family bible and license plate, my backpack
also contained the steak knife Gary and Dian had given me. I still can't
figure out how that wasn't spotted in the x-ray machine at the Old Post
Office, but on the other hand, I'm glad we didn't have an incident!

We finally arrived home Friday afternoon. It had been a good trip through
9 states and the District of Columbia. I had the chance to see Aunt Dot
and my cousins Diana, Louise and their husbands Gary and Steve, and then
to meet Stacy in Washington. I saw some beautiful country, spent some
quality time with my sister, and I've developed a liking for the music of
Toby Keith.

All in all it was a great time and my thanks once again to everyone,
especially Cheryl, for making it so!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I posted this picture of my grandfather Floyd Earl West, Sr. in my
series about my Road Trip vacation but thought I'd go a bit more
in depth about it now.

"Pop" served in the U.S. Army as an hospital orderly at Camp Devens
(later Fort Devens), Massachusetts in WW1 during the Spanish Influenza
epidemic of 1918. He entered the Army in April 1918 and was discharged
in March of 1919 so that gives me a timeframe on when it was taken. My
guess is he had it taken when he was on leave in November, 1917.

As I mentioned before, this is a postcard and on the back I can see that it
was taken at Avery Studios. Apparently business was good because there
is a list of 6 locations in Boston:

601 Washington St.
637 " "
361 " "

90 Court St.
129 Court St.

21 Tremont St.

Boston at that time was an active port city and railroad center and I would
think that a photography business would be very busy taking pictures of
soldiers and sailors to be sent home to loved ones. If you look at the background
behind Pop you can see it is a painting of an Army camp scene with tents and
the American flag flying proudly above it. There must have been a background
for sailors as well. I'm still trying to find a mention of Avery Studios in Boston
City directories for the period but so far no luck.

I also was struck by the chest pocket on "Pop" 's tunic. There's clearly something
in there because you can see the slight the edge of it pressing against the
cloth. Perhaps his papers or something else that "Pop" felt might be more secure
there than in his uniform's pants pockets?

As you can see, Pop never sent the postcard, instead bringing it home to his family
where it has been passed down still in great condition (The blue streaks are on the
image, not on the original, a result of some goof I made in scanning ) and now Aunt
Dot has passed it on to me.

Maybe I'm prejudiced, but "Pop" sure cut a fine figure in uniform!


The 56th Carnival of Genealogy is up at Lori Thornton's Smoky
Mountain Family Historian
and it's a first: a two parter! Part One
is the actual posts submitted by the participating genea-bloggers
on the topic "10 Essential Books in My Genealogy Library".
There are 33 contributors in this CoG and a wide range of books
mentioned, so many in fact that in Part Two Lori lists all the ones
selected in order of most mentions. (Number one is Evidence
Explained with 15 mentions.)

Lori also gives the call for submissions for the next Carnival of

"The topic for the next edition of the COG will be: I read it in the news!
Newspapers can be a wonderful source of family history information.
Share some aspect about your family history that you learned about in
a newspaper. Articles, advertisements, obituaries, classified ads, photos...
all are fair game if they appeared in a newspaper. What did you learn
about your family from this information? Was the information accurate?
How did you learn about this information... online search? Perusing old
newspapers? A clipping saved by a relative? Fill us in on your family
scoops... who in your family was in the news? The deadline for
submissions is October 1st. The next edition will be hosted at
the Creative Gene blog."

So stop the presses and send along your entry to the 57th edition of
the Carnival of Genealogy here and include a brief description of your
article in the "comment" box of the form !

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Some choices from my Sunday "geneabloggers-bord":

Thomas over at Destination: Austin Family has been trying to get
the term "genea-blogger" added to Wikipedia but they can't seem to
bring themselves to accept it as a legitimate word. Read his letter
to them here on his blog.

So I guess I should not ask to add geneabloggers-bord then?

Randy Seaver on Genea-musings has a post about and a link to a
most unusual obituary that made me laugh. This was a lady with a
sense of humor and whoever wrote this showed their love by honoring
her with laughter.

And here's a link to a story about the return of a "kidnapped" mechanical
gorilla to its rightful place at a store in East Machias, Maine. It has
nothing to do with genealogy, but I was struck by the contrast between
the philosophy of the volunteer who transported the gorilla home with
that of the attitude of the "kidnapper".


Elizabeth over at Little Bytes of Life has presented me with the
"I Love Your Blog" award. I am of course flattered that she thinks
enough of this geneablog and if I could I'd present her with one
right backsince I enjoy her writing as well. But now it's my turn to pass it
on to someone else and the rules are these:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog;
(well, as you can see, I did that already!)

2. Link to the person who gave you the award
(that too!)

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs;
Ok here are 7 genealogy related blogs I enjoy
(and that haven't already received the award):

Tim Abbot's Walking the Berkshires

Janet Brown's Cow Hampshire

Lisa's 100 Years in America
A Light That Shines Again
The Small-Leaved Shamrock

Colleen's Orations of OMcHodoy
The Oracle of OMcHodoy

Tim's and Janet's genealogy blogs were among the first I read that
made me think I might want to try my hand at this. I was introduced to
Lisa and Colleen's blogs through the Carnival of Genealogy. All 7 are
great reads with well thought out and researched articles.

4. Put links to those blogs on yours;
(already done long ago)

5. Leave a message on the blogs that you’ve nominated.

Well, that last one is the one thing I still need to if you'll excuse
me, I'll get right to it!

Friday, September 12, 2008


The 56th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is
"Ten Essential Books in My Genealogy Library". Eight of my
ten books are here in my apartment, the other two are online
at Google Books. I've included a comment on the significance
of each book.

The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
New York City, New York: American Bible Society, 1859

(The West Family Bible with family records of births, deaths and
marriages. )

The History of Wilsons Mills and the Magalloway Settlements
Wilsons Mills, Me.: The Town of Wilsons Mills, Maine 1975.

(The source of my Uncle Clarence's memoirs of the Azicohos Dam,
this book includes photos and short entries on my ancestors as
well as the other families of the area.)

Abbot, Abiel and Abbot, Ephraim. A Genealogical Register of the
Descendants of George Abbot, of Andover: George Abbot,
of Rowley; Thomas Abbot, of Andover; Arthur Abbot, of
Ipswich; Robert Abbot, of Branford, Ct.--and George Abbot, of
Norwalk, Ct. Boston, Massachusetts: James Munroe & Company,
1847 (online here at Google Books)

(I've used this a lot in researching my Abbot ancestors)

Abbot, Elinor, Our Company Increases Apace: History, Language, and
Social Identity in Early Colonial Andover, Massachusetts.
Dallas, Texas: SIL International, 2007

(I'm still reading this book, recommended to me by Tim Abbot. More insight
into the town where my Abbot and Barker ancestors lived.)

Butler, Caleb History of the Town of Groton: Including Pepperell and
Shirley, from the First Grant of Groton Plantation in 1655
Boston, Massachusetts: Press of T.R. Marvin, 1848 (online
here at Google Books)

(Another online edition which has been the source of much information
on the Ames and Prescott families, among others.)

Lindsay, David Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims
New York City, New York: St Martin Press, 2004

(While the book is a biography of Richard More, there are many references
to my ancestor Isaac Allerton.)

Mills, Elizabeth Shown, Evidence!: Citation & Analysis for the Family
Historian. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing
Company, 2007

(Well, I hope this list shows why it's essential!)

Morgan, George, The Official Guide to Provo, Utah:
Ancestry Publishing, 2007
(A great help in navigating the Ancestry site.)

Philbrick, Nathaniel Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
New York City, New York: Viking, 2006

(I learned a lot about King Philip's War from this book. A good read!)

Vrabel, Jim, When In Boston: A Time Line & Almanac Boston,
Massachusetts: Northeastern University Press, 2004

(What went on in Boston influenced all of New England. This gives
me an idea of what news my ancestors might have been discussing over

So there it is, but like most lists, it's a fluid thing and I work in a bookstore,
after all. There's always some new book that grabs my attention that might
knock a book off the list and take it's place!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sept 11th 2001 I was on my way to work at the bookstore which opens
at 9:00. As usual I was listening to WBZ AM, the Boston news radio
station and was somewhere on Rte 37 in Braintree when the news
bulletin came about the first plane hitting the South Tower of the
World Trade Center in New York. At first I thought it was some
terrible accident as I listened to the report. I remember at one traffic
stop the light turned green and the first car in line didn't move right
away. Nobody honked their horn at the driver. They were all listening
to the news.

I was running a few minutes late already and so I was just pulling into
a parking space when news came at 9:02 of the second crash. Now I
and the rest of America knew the first crash had not been a mistake.
We were under attack. I went into the store and punched in, then
knocked on the Cash Office door, where Linda, the office manager
at the time, was listening to the radio. Given that there had been a
previous attack on the Twin Towers by terrorists we realized this must
be another by the same group or another like it and talked about it for
a few minutes but the store was about to open and I needed to be out
on the sales floor.

It was a surreal day. Linda would relay the news to the staff about the
collapse of the Towers and the other two planes crashing into the
Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. We heard that the planes had
come from our own Logan Airport and had many New Englanders
aboard them, which made it even harder to hear. But work went on,
as it did for so many other Americans that day, even though our
minds and hearts weren't into doing our jobs.

That night when I got home, the networks kept showing the same
image over and over of the planes crashing, the Towers falling and
of the people running ahead of the looming cloud. I was angry at
whoever had done this to so many innocent people, and I wanted
them caught and punished for it.

Today, it's a different world. September 11th changed it forever.

And I still wait for Osama bin Laden to be caught and punished.


A new edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture
is coming up and it's a "Back to School" sort of theme, but
in the sense that it deals with family and genealogy. Here's how
Lisa at Small-Leaved Shamrock puts it:

Have Irish heritage in your family history? Make a plan to further
investigate the Irish side of your family tree and share your goals
with us. Here are some ideas:

Work back a few more generations on one branch of your
Irish family tree

Find naturalization papers that give the county of origin
for an immigrant ancestor

Find the townland in Ireland where your immigrant ancestor
was born

Get in touch with other relatives who share the same Irish

There are also other activities she suggests other than genealogy
but I need to do a lot more work on my Mom's side and this
gives me a chance to formulate an organized plan of attack,
so to speak.

I've had some success these past two years in tracing my family
lines on Dad's side but there's still a lot of blanks on my Mom's
branch of the tree, starting with her grandparents John and
Anna (Kelley) McFarland .According to the 1900 Federal Census,
John and Anna were married in 1879 and emigrated to the States
either that year or a year later in 1880. (depending on which census
I'm looking at.) So here is what I need to do:

1. Check out the newspaper collection at the Main Branch Boston
Public Library for obituaries on John, Anne, and their children.
This will entail a train trip into Boston on one of my Thursdays off.

2. Visit the Archdiocese of Boston's archives when they reopen
in Braintree to check on any baptismal, marriage, death, and
burial information they might have. Since the Archives are closed
until 2009 while they are moved from Boston to Braintree it will be
awhile before I can do this. The good news is that once they are
open, it's only a ten minute drive which is very cool! I can spend
more time there than if it were in Boston.

3. Search online for ships' records of John and Anna McFarland
and on the passenger lists. So far I've had no luck on this but
I 'll keep at it.

4. Search for John and Anna's naturalization papers. I'm not sure
Anna when became a U.S. citizen. Up until the 1930 census she
wasn't, and the entry in that column in 1930 could be either "Na"
for "naturalized" or "Pa" for "first papers". John had died on
3 Aug 1924, so perhaps his death caused Anna to apply for the
better legal protection citizenship might give a widow. John
was listed as "Na" beginning with the 1900 census.

5 Explore the possibility of what Boston City records might exist for
John who was employed as a city laborer. Would they list his
parents, and the exact place of birth in Ireland?

6. Explore the possibility of records of John's employment by the
Boston Elevated Railroad(now known as the Massachusetts Bay
Transit Authority) for the same information. My mother told me
several times that John had been one of the workers when it was
originally built.

7. Talk with my older cousins for any thing they might know
about John and Anna that they might remember or that their
parents told them.

So there it is. Let's see how much I can get done before "school's
out" next June.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I'm not sure what happened but I had 113 hits here yesterday(Monday).
The keywords and searches that brought them here were spread pretty
evenly across the board with many being on family names such as
Prescott or Ellenwood/Ellingwood. And the majority of views lasted 5
seconds or less so they might have come here, but they didn't hang
around long.

On the other hand, this is only the second time I've had 100+ views in
a day, so I'll take it anyway I can get it, thank you very much. Thanks to
those who dropped in no matter hiow long you stayed!

And I've made contact with another Barker relative, so the Barker line
leads the others in "number of new cousins discovered"!

Monday, September 08, 2008


There's a whole bunch of memes and carnivals out there that I
need to get caught up with, so without further ado, here's one.

Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi
used the lyrics of Rogers and Hammerstein's song "Getting to
Know You" to issue a challenge to genea-bloggers:

"The number of new blogs is increasing so rapidly that many
of us are having trouble keeping up with reading and visiting.
There never seems enough time to get to know new blogs much
less to interact with their authors. To help out in that regard,
I'm issuing a challenge to all Bloggers to help us get to know
each other --- tell us the bright and breezy and beautiful from
your blog using the following format.

Write a short paragraph describing you, your work, and your goals
for writing"

I'm a bookseller for a major bookstore chain and I just turned
60 two weeks ago. I have a B.A. in history and for years my
primary area of interest was ancient and medieval, but as I've
become more involved in genealogy I've come to have a greater
appreciation for American history. I am an avid reader of sf,
fantasy, and historical mysteries, and oh yeah, I have a computer.

As for the purpose of my writing this blog, thrifty New Englander
that I am, I'm going to recycle this part of a post from the
Genea-Blogger Games:

"A blog about genealogy and thoughts about the various
roots and branches of my family tree as well as the times
in which my ancestors lived."

I wrote that the day I began "West in New England" and while
it's a fairly succinct description of what this blog was intended
to be, it's become a bit more since then. My goal was to
preserve and share what I know or discover my family's
genealogy but that now has expanded to include my memories
of my immediate family, of growing up and living, and of some
of the things that I like or dislike.(Such as the previous "Tunes"
post inspired by Tim Abbott's meme.) Now as I grow older,
I want to leave stories that my niece and nephews can have
about myself and my parents, because I have come to realize
how little I know about my mother's parents and their side of
the family and wish that I knew more."

The Best- Orpha The story of the brief first marriage of my ancestor
Jonathan Phelps West and the devastating effect a diphtheria epidemic
had on his family.

Inspired by a humorous challenge from Cow Hampshire's Janice
Brown, this is the final post of the uses I and others came up, all
of which can be viewd by clicking on the label "flutaphone"

The Beautiful: Boy this is tough but I have to go with AGGIE, not
because it's exceptionally great writing but because it was the first entry
where I went beyond names and dates to try to give a sense of what the
life of one of my relatives was like.

If you're new to my blog, feel free to post a comment on an article, or
if we share a common ancestor, let me know by comment or email. I'm
always glad to meet a new relative and I'll happily share with you any
information I might have about our families .

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, September 07, 2008


It's Sunday morning and I'm back to my usual football season routine
of browsing the web and my fellow genealogy blogger's blogs as I
eat my toast and drink my coffee.

There's certainly plenty of reading material, too, since Jasia posted
the 55th Carnival of Genealogy and I think it's a record number of
entries with 50 articles from 49 contributors. I'm going to have to
come back to that after the Patriots' game to read whatever I don't
get to before the game! The theme this time around is "Show &
Tell" and my post on the "Amos Hastings Barker Family Reunion,
1896" was my entry. The next COG is on "10 Essential Books in
My Genealogical Library" and the deadline is Sept. 15th. You can
submit an entry here, and please include a short introduction of
your article in the "comments" box. The COG has grown to such
a point now that at 40 or 50 entries, it's the least we can do to make it
easier for Jasia to get it ready.

Hmm. Maybe I can come up with a new genealogical term for
this? Genea-brunch? Genea-bloggersbord?

Readers might have notice a change in this blog's layout starting about
10 days ago. It's a result of my setting up a mirror site over on Wordpress
as a backup. The layout I used there appealed seemed "cleaner" to me
and I switched to a similar one here at Blogger. I've noticed that I have
less margin problems with the text with this new layout, so that was an
added benefit.

That's it for now. The pregame show is nearly on.



About 9pm tonight the fire alarm in my apartment went off and I
quickly realized it was the whole building's alarms sounding. I
went outside to find my neighbors standing around trying to
figure out what was wrong. None of us had smelled nor seen
smoke. As we waited for the fire trucks to arrive, I went back
in to my apartment and got the only item I could think of I
needed to save, the West Family Bible that I wrote about in my
last post.

After about ten minutes the alarms went silent after the fire
department fixed whatever was wrong in the control panel
downstairs in the basement. I brought the Bible back inside
just as it began to rain(remnants of tropical storm Hannah).
By the time I went back outside, the fire trucks were gone and
the neighbors were all back inside.

All in all, an interesting experience but not one I want to repeat
soon, nor am I in any great hurry to have to deal with the real

Saturday, September 06, 2008


When we got back to Diana and Gary's house we all went inside and
I took a seat on the couch in the parlor. When I'm at home I usually
end up taking an after-dinner nap in the chair in my own parlor so I
was trying not to do the same thing at Diana's place when something
happened that sure woke me up: Diana brought out a birthday cake.
I never had a clue it was coming!

Diana and Gary gave me a handcrafted steak knife from Warther
Cutlery which was made in Dover, Ohio. (I used it last night, by
the way. Boy, is it sharp!)

Diana and Gary also gave me the license plate off Pop's Model A along
with the moosehide thongs he'd had to cut through with a hacksaw
to get the plate off the frame. This meant a lot to me because Dad
used to tell us kids how he learned to drive in that car at a pretty
young age on the back roads uphome. The license plate is now on
the top of the bookcase next to my computer desk

Then Aunt Dot gave me her gift. The birthday card with it contained
a picture of my grandfather in his WW1 uniform. It was the front side
of a postcard which apparently he'd never sent but brought home himself.
That in itself was a great gift, but there was a wrapped gift along with it.
Now having worked in the book business for nearly 19 years now I knew
it was a book of some type and my first thought was that maybe it was
something from Lehman's or maybe the Houghton book that Dot had
shown me photocopied pages of the night before. But it was something
I really hadn't expected.

It was the West Family Bible which originally belonged to Arvilla Ames
before she married my ancestor John Cutter West and has the records
of births, deaths, and marriages of their children and grandchildren. I was
completely surprised and honored that she felt I should have something
that had such significance to our family. I'll do my best to keep it safe
until it's time to pass it on to another family member. I can never thank
Aunt Dot enough, as well as the others for their gifts and for giving my
sister Cheryl and I such a great visit.

And thank you, Cheryl, for the whole trip. It was a great 60th birthday

We all posed for a picture before Louise and Steve had to leave. I'm the
big goof in the back with the Red Sox cap. Afterward we had a piece of
cake and coffee while I found out how long this surprise had been in the
works (since last year!) and then it was time for Cheryl and I to leave.
We would be heading on down to Washington D.C. the next day, so
our visit with Dot and her family was coming to an end.

It was a great trip, getting to visit Dot and her family and see a beautiful
area of our country and whenever I look at my birthday gifts I'll think of
about it. This was the third time in three years we'd seen each other (the
other two times were for the weddings of Cheryl's daughter and of her
oldest son) after some years when we hadn't been able to get together
and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

(L to right, Steve, Aunt Dot, Louise, Diana, Gary, and myself in the back)

Thursday, September 04, 2008


We met Aunt Dot, Louise and Steve at Diana's house about midmorning
Tuesday and after a bit of discussion on where we might go it was
decided to start with Lehman's Hardware and then decide where to go
from there afterwards. We took two cars: Diana rode with Cheryl and
I and Aunt Dot went with Louise and Steve. Diana's husband Gary
was dealing with the crash of their computer so he wasn't able to join

It was another great day weather-wise and we saw a heron wading in
a river as we waited for a traffic light to change. We stopped for lunch
along the way before continuing on to Lehman's.

Lehman's is located in Kidron, Ohio in the heart of the Amish country
and is huge. When the owner decided to expand he purchased an
Amish farmer's barn and had it reconstructed beam by beam next to the
original store. It's as much of a museum as a store, with old machines
and products displayed along the walls and in the beams overhead.
I got a few laughs from the copies of vintage signs for sale, such as one
for Ted's Root Beer (as in Ted Williams, which was sold in New
England during the 1950's.)and some of the other signs with sayings,
such as "If You Remember the Sixties, You Weren't There!". There was
also the toy section, with an electric train running through the rafters and
metal peddle cars like the one I had as a kid displayed on a shelf by the
windows. A quick glance at the price tags told me they were a heckuva
lot more expensive now

The other wing of the store had modern stoves, refrigerators and stereos
manufactured with old fashioned exteriors from the 19th and early 20th
centuries. The workmanship was amazing and nice to look at but they
were definitely well out of my price range. Outside next to the building
was this humongous farm machine with a huge chain attached to it,
though I think any attempt to steal it would be noisy enough to attract
quite a bit of attention.

It was nearly 5pm and it was decided we'd drive out to Lake Atwood
to the Lighthouse Restaurant which is located in the West Marina on
the lake. It's a nice location with a good view of the lake and we sat out
on the patio. The food was good and I enjoyed the dinner with the
exception of the large business party of about twenty men who were
so loud that on occasion it made it hard to carry out a conversation
at our table. Afterwards Steve and I walked down to the water and he
told me about how Lake Atwood was one of several man made lakes
built during the Depression. Quite a few people boat on it or camp
by it, and it's such a pretty spot I could see why!

After dinner we all went back to Diana and Gary's home and I finally
saw a live deer. (We'd seen four dead deer along the side of the
highway on the trip out.) I'd missed a small group of them earlier
that Diana had spotted but this one was grazing in a field by the

It had been another good day and it had been a thoroughly enjoyable
visit with my Aunt and her family.

But it wasn't over yet!